Who and where is the enemy?

I was looking at some books on the ancient world. A few of the books were on Rome, specifically the changes that happened after Christianization.

People often talk about the Barbarian invasions and the fall of Rome. But the fact of the matter is that the German tribes that ‘invaded’ were already there living in the empire. They had been mercenaries for generations and were trained by the Romans. They weren’t really ‘Barbarians’, in the sense of being a foreign pagan population that showed up from the wildlands beyond the Roman frontier.

These Germans were even already converted to Christianity, but it was at a time when Christianity was splintered in diverse traditions and beliefs. It’s quite likely that those in power feared the Germans because they adhered to heretical forms of Christianity. As far as that goes, most early Christians would be labeled as heretics by the heresiologists. That was fine until the heresiologists attempted to oppress and kill all competing Christian adherents. Maybe the German Christians took that personally and decided to fight for not just their sovereignty but also their religious freedom.

So, it was really just one population of Christians in Rome deciding to take power from or simply overthrow another population of Christians in Rome. Those Romanized and Christianized Germans would become the great monarchies and empires of Europe, such as the French Normans that turned much of Britain into England. And it was the Norman-descended Cavaliers who reinstated the monarchy after the English Civil War, creating modern England.

All that was meant in the ancient world by someone being Barbarian was that they were of a different ethnicity. It literally meant someone outside of one’s door, which is to say outside of one’s community. And in the Roman Empire, many ethnicities maintained separate communities. The Jews were Barbarians as well and the Romans feared them as well, although their earlier revolt failed.

It is interesting to think about those early German Christians that helped topple the Roman Empire. Maybe they were practicing for the later Protestant Reformation.

The original Lutherans, Anabaptists, Pietists, Moravians, Mennonites, Amish, etc were Germans. Calvin’s father came from the northern borderlands of the Roman Empire, in a town established by Romanized Gauls, and after Calvin escaped France Calvinism took hold in Switzerland. Huguenots also lived in the border regions of what once was the Roman Empire. The population out of which Puritanism arose, influenced by some of these German Christians, was of German descent. The English Midlands where the Scandinavians settled gave birth to Quakers and other dissenter traditions.

German Christians, along with other Northern European and British Christians, were constantly causing trouble. This challenging of religious authority lasted for more than a millennia. And to a lesser degree it continues. In the majority Germanic Midwest of the United States, this struggle over Christianity continues with much challenge and competition. The Midwestern Methodist church where my Germanic grandfather was once minister ended when some in the congregation challenged central church authority.

Christian authority is on the wane these days, though. American fundamentalists like to think of the United States as the last great bastion of Christian authority, like the Christianized Roman Empire once was. But if Washington is to fall as did Rome, it will likely be from an invading army of non-believers, of secularists, agnostics, and atheists. Maybe similar to those Germanic mercenaries but minus the Christianity, the defense contract mercenaries will grow so powerful that in their Godless capitalism they will turn against their weakened American rulers. Corporatism will be our new religion, as the American empire collapses and disintegrates into corporate fiefdoms. Some would argue that corporatism is already our new religion.

Anyway, if history is to be repeated, the so-called barbarians at the gates are already here. And they have been here for a while. They won’t need to invade, as they were welcomed in long ago and were enculturated into our society. The mercenaries of our society, whether taken literally or metaphorically, might turn out to be a fifth column. The enemy within might be those we perceive as protecting us, until it’s too late. Mercenaries aren’t always known for their loyalty. So, who are the mercenaries in our society, the guns-for-hire? And who is the real enemy in this situation? The mercenaries of our society would answer that question differently, as did the German mercenaries living in the Roman Empire.


21 thoughts on “Who and where is the enemy?

  1. Speaking of enemies, the US is at war again – with Syria.

    See this –

    This is a very serious mistake. I think that Trump’s Presidency will be a disaster, because he was not the man that he campaigned to be.

    If he were remotely serious, he would end the wars abroad, bring the US troops home and then use the money on rebuilding America’s infrastructure.

    This could easily spill over into other nations, lead to a large refugee crisis, and get a lot of people killed needlessly.

    It’s interesting to note that the Paleoconservatives have broken ranks.



    No U.S. interests are threatened by the Syrian government, and at present the Syrian government’s patrons are to some degree on the same side as our government in their hostility to ISIS. Attacking the Syrian government would be a boon to jihadists, the start of a new and unnecessary war for the U.S., possible direct confrontation with Iran and its proxies in Iraq and Syria, and a potentially disastrous provocation of a nuclear-armed major power. Trump is always emphasizing how the U.S. gets nothing from its foreign wars, so it bears repeating that the U.S. would most certainly get nothing from picking another fight in the region except increased costs and new enemies.

    If Trump were half the realist or even the ‘Jacksonian’ that some of his supporters have claimed him to be, this intervention would not be under consideration, but then Trump is first and foremost a militarist and seems inclined to favor military options to the exclusion of everything else. If Trump were remotely serious about his “America first” rhetoric, the obvious lack of any threat to American interests would ensure that there would be no U.S. military action taken against Syria’s government, but his use of that phrase has always been opportunistic and it has never meant that he is interested in staying out of foreign wars or minding our own business.

    Deeper intervention in Syria seemed to be something that Trump was unlikely to do as president based on what he said during the campaign, but he could never be trusted to do what he said and his foreign policy views have always been unformed (and uninformed) and can be easily changed. Trump’s lack of foreign policy experience and knowledge make him much more susceptible to bad advice, and his lack of any firm convictions means that he is more likely than most to yield to demands that he “do something” in response to an ongoing conflict.

    I think that ideologically the left has more in common with the Paleoconservatives these days than we do with the Clinton Liberal faction, which also wanted to go to war. They are pretty much neoconservatives.

    We disagree with the Paleocons on social issues and they are a lot more free market oriented, but when push comes to shove, they seem to be a lot more ideologically honest than the rest of the political spectrum. They also seem to be pro-middle class.

    We should also pay a very close eye on which Democrats choose to vote for this war. Who is going to play bad cop this time around? Everyone knows that like Iraq, this is going to be a disaster. Washington seems determined to not learn from its past mistakes … perhaps to make the military industrial complex very rich.

    I’m thinking that in 2020, if there is a Sanders like President, they could criticize this decision and go from there.

  2. only one caveat . . . a personal insight gleaned from the Pesher Technique, Barbara Thiering: I think in the beginning, Christianity was a top-down sort of religion, that Jesus was the David king (if he were legitimate), and that his “missing years” were rich kid years, school in Rome, back and forth between Rome and Jerusalem (and Qumran, in the PT). The families were contemporary, the Agrippas, Jesus’ family, the Caesars, and all rich aristocrat types. Now you’re better at this ancient history than me, so see if this idea makes sense of anything for you, that it was actually the rich’s cult first, and so all Rome’s subject peoples resented it being forced on them. I imagine you’ve heard the theories that German antisemitism was partly the age-old German paganism VS Judaism’s monotheism, and that would fit Rome and Christendom’s oppression of all those folks too (or their sense of it). If Christianity really was a grassroots thing as they would have us believe, then who are the resentful Europeans we’re talking about, right? (and BTW, what culture ever took over the world by consensus?)

    • I would put it this way. There was some grassroots Christianity early on. It originally was a small, insignificant cult. No different than thousands of such cults in the Roman Empire. That isn’t to say there weren’t any rich people attracted to it, but obviously no one significant enough to draw any attention while Jesus was alive.

      If Christianity hadn’t been made into the imperial religion by an act of fiat, it probably would have died out like all the other cults. There was nothing that was particularly unique about Christianity. Most of early Christian beliefs, practices, imagery, etc were borrowed from other religions. It was this syncretism that made it a useful tool for imperial assimilation, although there weren’t many other syncretistic cults that could have served the same purpose.

      By the time the German mercenaries were converted, Christianity was a full-fledged imperial religion that was being violently forced onto the masses. Most people did not convert to Christianity willingly. If someone tells you to either convert or be oppressed and maybe killed, it simplifies your decision-making process.

      • that’s the usual story, based in the usual scholarly understanding, gleaned from nothing, from the bible itself, Joephus, the Clementine stuff . . . I swear, B., take a week, read the Pesher Technique website – it ain’t religion. It’ll make the story you just told me sound like the religion, which it is. Your last paragraph, I have no argument at all. It’s just that it always was that way, right from the start. Even if the living, breathing political story of the PT is not right in its details, it still shows the existing narrative, as you just stated it to me to be one of those false origin stories. All the scholarly guessing done regarding the beginning of Christianity all has the aspect of being complicit in Jesus and co.’s mythmaking and destruction of the true history of the human beings who started the church. They’re trying to put in Aborigine “before time” for us, outside of reality, they’re invested in the idea of no true history, “bigly.”

        • All that I know is that Jesus doesn’t show up in any records in his lifetime. Even the most famous Jewish historian of the time didn’t mention him. All the claimed statements referring to him at the time are forgeries. So, we know nothing of what happened then, at least I’ve never seen evidence to the contrary. But I’m always open to new evidence.

    • You state that, “They prefer your argument is “it’s just a story” to Thiering’s argument of “here’s the real story.”” The problem with that assessment is that I don’t exactly have an argument. I simply see evidence and many possible explanations with no way to absolutely prove anything. Like so many things, I’m an agnostic on this issue. I doubt too many people prefer my equal opportunity radical skepticism.

      Thiering could be right or she could be wrong, but we simply can’t know. Sure, her hypothesis is plausible and that is about as good as it gets when studying such limited ancient textual evidence. So, I’m not really arguing against Thiering and for some opposing view. I’m already familiar with the broad argument Thiering makes, as I’ve looked at some of her writings previously. And I’ve come across many other plausible theories over the years, such as the work of John Marco Allegro. Some of these various theories are quite interesting, Thiering’s theory included, but I don’t feel compelled to latch onto any of them. Even when I was a Christian, I never cared about a historical Jesus. And I’m not likely to start caring now.

      There might have been no historical person named Jesus and who went by the title Christ. There might have been many people who were mixed up into a single set of narratives. The name Jesus and the title Christ were common in the early Roman Empire. It’s conceivable that there was more than one Jesus Christ preaching. And there certainly were thousands of teachers, prophets, and miracle workers in that area during that historical period.

      In any case, there obviously was multiple influences on early Christians. There was the Jewish sects like the Qumran community and Jewish thinkers like those in Alexandria. The latter helped introduce neo-Platonic ideas into Christianity, such as non-literally and spiritually interpreting Biblical stories, and also introduced the Christian fishy. Stoics gave Christians natural law and martyrdom. Isis religion introduced Mother Mary worship. The Mystery Religions were a major influence in many ways. The hundreds of dying and resurrecting gods and godmen were a major source of symbolism and theology. Astrotheology was a general framework of thought in the ancient world that helped shape early Christianity. The official worship of deified emperors likely was incorporated into Christianity.

      You conclude that, “It’s another case of a truth that doesn’t matter, that people will not have.” Well, that could be said about many theories. I’m with Robert M. Price, in that he can see the potential merits in multiple theories, from that of the Pesher technique to that of mythicism, both of which he has written about along with much else. And in return, Thiering along with mythicists have spoken well of Price (Thiering gave a positive blurb for a book he co-edited, The Empty Tomb: “It is not new for a few lonely, persecuted radicals to deny the resurrection of Jesus. What is new in this book is that such a number of competent, scrupulous scholars are agreeing that it did not happen, and going so far as attacking fundamentalists for propagating false and misleading views of the Bible.”). Like Price, I’m more interested in opening up debate and seeing where it will lead, rather than close down debate prematurely.

      And you add that, “she really hasn’t been refuted, only ignored.” She hasn’t been entirely ignored. Some Biblical scholars have an opinion on her work, both in book reviews and scholarly writings: Géza Vermes, N. T. Wright, James F. McGrath, Edna Ullman-Margalit, C.B. Forbes, etc. Doing a few web searches, I found various scholarly commentary in response to her theory, a lot of it being negative as is expected but some positive as well. Even if not ignored, it maybe hasn’t been given the attention it deserves. Price seems to think it is worth taking seriously, although not without a critical stance. The Rational Wiki, in a short entry, also offered a minor defense in her favor.

      Anyway, consider Price’s scholarship which is quite wide-ranging. He obviously sees no contradiction or problem in considering multiple sets of evidence, analysis, and theory. He is the very essence of open-minded query, as he changed his mind over time on a number of issues. He used to be an apologist who became an atheist, but even as an atheist he held onto the idea of a historical Jesus. Then he lost even certainty of that and now, as with growing numbers of people, he is agnostic about Jesus’ historicity. He takes a position neither for nor against because it can’t be proven one way or the other. That is what led him to writing a book on mythicism, a theory he had previously been critical toward. Yet as far as I know, that hasn’t led him to retract his views on Thiering.

      In all honesty, it isn’t something I’m interested in arguing about. Whether or not Thiering is correct about some all or all of what she argues, it doesn’t change my original point. It is largely irrelevant if Christianity began with the Qumran community or later on elsewhere… or that maybe it didn’t have a single origin at all but was the merging of multiple threads of influence. The point, as far as I’m concerned, is that the early direct evidence is skimpy. This is what makes possible so many interpretations and hence so much disagreement.


      “Barbara Thiering has attempted to link pesher to the New Testament, in conjunction with her idiosyncratic approach to textual interpretation. Her approach has not found favour with the wider scholarly community, however.

      “This last statement is the favorite dismissal of her work on Wikipedia that is supported by the Christian-Wiki police. What follows here is a more precise meaning of Dr. Thiering’s discovery, described in her books and website, of the pesher in relation to the Dead Sea Scrolls and the early Christian Church of Jesus. Given that the writers of the Gospels would have been familiar with the pesher technique of the Dead Sea Scrolls, it would have been logical for them to apply it. In many cases it is obvious, but in others it is more subtle. […]

      “Finally the most important point is that all these supposed suppositions all support each other into a coherent whole.”


      “It is a time for searching reexamination of the Scrolls and their implications for early Christianity and the life of Jesus. We can only be grateful to Barbara Thiering for her ingenuity. Though many will feel they cannot accept most of her suggestions, one must not consign them all to a premature grave. For instance, the notion that the Samaritan woman is meant as a cipher for the Simonian Helena ought not to be dismissed out of hand, given the Christian-Samaritan polemical context in which scholars have long placed the passage.

      “Certainly the surprising proposal that the Teacher of Righteousness was John the Baptist (already the suggestion of Robert Eisler, The Messiah Jesus and John the Baptist, who made the link on the basis of the single Scroll available to him, the Cairo Genizah copy of the Damascus Covenant) should be taken as seriously as one is willing to take Eisenman’s identification of the Teacher with James the Just. We have for a long time taken for granted that John had some Qumran affinity and that Jesus had broken with John’s sect’s penitential strictness, even that the two sects continued side by side for some time. How far does Dr. Thiering’s proposal go beyond these tenets of the critical consensus?

      “Finally, though the very boldness of Thiering’s reconstruction will cause some to dismiss it at once without further consideration such as we have sought to supply here, it ought instead to be recognized as a sign of a fresh vigor in the field of New Testament criticism. Thiering is willing to put cherished paradigms on the shelf and try something altogether new. As Paul Feyerabend has said, “The only principle that does not inhibit progress is: ‘anything goes.'””


      “The Teacher of Righteous was James the Just (though Arthur E. Palumbo, Jr., The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Personages of Earliest Christianity, 2004, may be right: as per Barbara Thiering, John the Baptist may have been the first to hold that office, with James as his successor).”


      “”Commensality” Crossan dubs it. But Crossan has resorted to the same sort of allegorical rationalizing as the old Rationalists who had Jesus walk on the stepping stones in the Sea of Galilee. His theory here precisely matches that of the much-criticized Barbara Thiering (Jesus and the Riddle of the Dead Sea Scrolls, 1992) who says that Jesus’ “resurrection” of Lazarus really denoted Jesus lifting the ban of excommunication levied on Lazarus by the Qumran bishops. Somehow Crossan can get away with saying it where Thiering can’t.”

      • right off the top – yes, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to say “your story,” just atheists generally’s story. The idea that if it looks like the Mithra myth, then that proves that no such Jesus existed, which doesn’t follow. If I claim Moses’ origin story, that doesn’t prove I don’t exist.
        That list of names of biblical scholars – I chased some of it down, and it adds up to nothing, a bunch of names of Christian college professors who agree for no reason at all that she can’t be right. The internet has repeated these baseless claims endlessly. The somewhat positive stuff you mention, those are the scholars and the archaeologists, some of which worked with her and disagree only in some detail. Again, back to the start of these comments, the church prefers the obscurity and powerlessness of all those theories and the combinations of them that seem to add power to an argument while only being the splinters of a shattered, non-cohesive argument. They have no interest in an historical human Jesus – same as you, ha. An historical human Jesus does not help the church, and it sure isn’t why he needs to be discovered, to help them. The real story will hurt the church and advance humanity in true understanding, to some degree.
        I have very little interest in selling you her story either, but I feel we’re not getting to a point I don’t want to let go: One, Thiering and her crew have the evidence, the original bloody texts, so this “there is no evidence” is not an argument, simply a blanket denial. That’s the only point I wish to dispute with you. The “there is no evidence” line isn’t the atheist argument, it’s the church’s. It’s their favourite too, because they know it’s true, because they shredded it themselves. Turn it around: who has more evidence than Thiering? We base our judgment on evidence of no evidence rather than actual evidence we don’t like? I suspect it’s getting into another one of our parasitic social metaphors here, the evidence of “special rules of logic” seem to be piling up . . .

      • of course I’ll let it go. I just want to make the point that your post here is even stronger from the POV of the PT, where it was always an aristocratic cult. That helps explain the resentment of the rest of the empire, and in such a way that the usual Christian persecution complex (myth) isn’t the implicit explanation.

      • “The idea that if it looks like the Mithra myth, then that proves that no such Jesus existed, which doesn’t follow.”

        That isn’t the argument of most mythicist scholars and those like Price who see value in the mythicist theory. The existence or non-existence of a historical figure is separate. But for some reason critics of mythicism are always mixing this up.

        Arguments about the lack of historical evidence involves separate issues, although obviously related. Without evidence for a historical Jesus, it forces us to come up with a new theory of how the religion developed and grew. Thiering offers one possibility of getting around this problem, but it is one possibility among many.

        “That list of names of biblical scholars – I chased some of it down, and it adds up to nothing, a bunch of names of Christian college professors who agree for no reason at all that she can’t be right.”

        I wasn’t arguing in favor of any of these scholars. I tend to be critical of the whole field, since it is dominated by apologists. Most of biblical studies is apologetics, not serious scholarship. Richard Carrier has regularly argued that biblical scholars have extremely low standards of historical evidence that would not be acceptable in a more respectable field of study.

        “Again, back to the start of these comments, the church prefers the obscurity and powerlessness of all those theories and the combinations of them that seem to add power to an argument while only being the splinters of a shattered, non-cohesive argument. They have no interest in an historical human Jesus – same as you, ha.”

        You could have fooled me. Most biblical scholars obsess over the historicity of Jesus. There is almost nothing that is more important to them. Their entire belief system and ideological worldview is dependent on it.

        But maybe I get the point you’re making. It’s always questionable to the degree apologists and other kinds of ideologues care about any facts, even those they claim to care about. If absolute historical proof of the non-existence of Jesus was discovered, the true believers would go on believing in a historical Jesus. That is because they have turned history into mythology. It’s not the historicity of their beliefs that matters but their belief in historicity.

        My belief, however, goes in neither direction. No matter what new evidence is found, my state of disinterest in a historical Jesus will likely remain the same. It depends, of course. If Jesus’ autobiography was located in the Vatican library, that would be fascinating and I’d definitely read it. I just somehow doubt we are going to find any major new evidence at this point.

        The silence of sources in the early Roman Empire is deafening. Even Thiering’s approach requires a lot of interpretation of evidence that could be easily interpreted in multiple ways and, indeed, others have interpreted it differently. The less there is evidence the more it opens itself up to interpretation.

        That is fine. I’m a big fan of speculating about the past, but I try to maintain an attitude of skepticism. Even with my most favorite theories, I hold them at some distance and try not to grasp them too tightly. I always assume that I might be wrong and that others might be wrong. It’s part of my radical skepticism. It’s just the way I am.

        “One, Thiering and her crew have the evidence, the original bloody texts, so this “there is no evidence” is not an argument, simply a blanket denial.”

        Read Price’s piece on her. He is a scholar who treats others fairly. He carefully lists the weaknesses of her method and its application. No one could ever accuse him of “blanket denial.” You can only claim them as the “original bloody texts” by interpreting them in that light. But there are other ways they can and have been interpreted. It’s part of a larger scholarly debate that is ongoing, as it should be.

        “That’s the only point I wish to dispute with you. The “there is no evidence” line isn’t the atheist argument, it’s the church’s.”

        Well, it isn’t the argument of the Vatican or fundamentalists. Even most respectable non-believing scholars toe the line with the standard view that Jesus was historically real. Bart Ehrman wrote an entire book against mythicism, in its relation to historicism. Many other scholars argue for Jesus as a radical community organizer, as a magician, etc. But most biblical scholars, believers and non-believers alike, hold to the view of Jesus’ historicism. On a related note, Thiering isn’t the first person to connect Qumran to early Christianity.

        “Turn it around: who has more evidence than Thiering? We base our judgment on evidence of no evidence rather than actual evidence we don’t like?”

        All these scholars are dealing with the same evidence. The scholars who disagree with her or who are partly critical aren’t denying the evidence in the slightest. Everyone recognizes the texts of the Qumran community. The issue of debate is how to interpret them. And that is an extremely complicated issue.

        Having read a fair amount of biblical scholarship, I’ve come across many plausible theories that deal with various evidence in different ways. The plausibility of one doesn’t negate the plausibility of another because plausibility is different than absolute proof. After a while, one grows circumspect about the competing claims of having the one right theory that will defeat all other theories, something like the one ring that will rule them all.

        “I just want to make the point that your post here is even stronger from the POV of the PT, where it was always an aristocratic cult. That helps explain the resentment of the rest of the empire, and in such a way that the usual Christian persecution complex (myth) isn’t the implicit explanation.”

        It might make it stronger. But my purpose is never to gather theories to support what I want to believe. I try my best to follow the evidence where it leads. And if it simply leads to a dead end or into a fog, so be it. That may make my arguments less impressive than if I were to make stronger assertions. I understand and I’m fine with that.

        My purpose is simply to explore what I find, as best as I’m able to understand, not to impress anyone with the power of my persuasion toward some particular viewpoint. Not that I wouldn’t be happy to have an influence on others, just that I’ll do it my own way, meandering and weak as it may seem. There is a method to my madness, even if it isn’t a method that serves the purposes others might prefer. I follow my daimon wherever it leads.

        All of that said, I’ll keep Thiering in mind. My thoughts circle around and around, often returning to old intellectual territory. I’m obsessive reader and so come across a wide variety of ideas and names. And I’m never afraid to go off the beaten path for, if anything, I’m wary of spending too much time on the beaten path.

        There are plenty of scholars and other serious thinkers who are more than willing to challenge authority, knock down idols, and kill sacred cows. If Thiering’s theory stands the test of time, further evidence and analysis will corroborate what she has written. The truth will out. I’m a patient guy, in my own way. I’ll let things sort themselves out. I don’t have to try to figure everything out all at once.

      • My motivation is more curiosity than anything. That is why I feel so little attachment to specific theories. Or rather I’m drawn to the most broad theories.

        The syncretistic meta-theory of early Christianity can incorporate multiple other theories, but isn’t dependent on any given theory. If Thiering’s theory is right, then it could be seen as part of the syncretistic meta-theory. And if it’s wrong, the syncretistic meta-theory would still remain because of the multiple strands and levels of influence.

        The syncretistic meta-theory is a way of understanding how the different theories, whichever are proven or seem most plausible, could have joined to form what came to be known as Christianity. Syncretism is also a way of understanding the larger cultural context of the ancient world where, in large empires and along vast trade routes, diverse populations mixed together.

        My interest is less in any specific religion than in the entire world that existed at the time. Even among Christians, they might not have had a single origin. Some were Jews and others were not. Gnosticism, for example, some argue was a separate tradition while others argue it was the original tradition. The earliest followers of Paul were Gnostics and other heretics.

        I just fine it fascinating. And I honestly don’t know how the individual threads can easily be separated.

    • Yeah. It’s unintentional. I have been writing. I’m in the middle of multiple posts. But I keep getting distracted. I’ll have some posts coming out soon.

      It’s not that I’ve been lazy. Just unfocused. I have kept busy. I’ve been reading a fair bit, various books on my typical interests.

      Some of the books I’ve been perusing are Harnessed by Mark Changzi, The Memory Code by Lynne Kelly, Strange Tools by Alva Noe, From Bacteria to Bach and Back by Daniel C. Dennet, Rigor Mortis by Richard Harris, Is Science Racist? by Jonathan Marks, and a smattering of other stuff. Just yesterday, I took a nice long walk and read the essay “Coal Memory” by Alan Moore from Spirits of Place, an enjoyable and weird read.

      One book I came across recently would interest you, The Meme Machine by Susan Blackmore. I was looking at it a while back. But I haven’t yet explored it more thoroughly.

      Remind me of what PT refers to. My mind has been so scattered lately that I don’t recall what we were talking about.

    • You’re talking about the Pesher Technique, aren’t you? One thing I noticed is that none of her books are in ebook form. I don’t buy a lot of physical books these days for reasons of limited space. The next time I’m at the public library or university library, I’ll try to remember to look for one of her books.

        • Well, I’ve looked at the website before, on multiple occasions. I get the basic argument being made. It’s not that I’m exactly disagreeing with anything. I’m just ‘agnostic’, so to speak, about all theories in biblical studies.

          I have theories I prefer, such as syncretic influences and the early Gnostics. But I’m not particularly attached to any conclusion. So, Thiering’s view interests me, as do many other views. Yet as a non-Christian, although not an anti-Christian, I feel no need to commit myself to any given interpretation.

          I have great curiosity about early Christianity. And at the same time, I feel psychologically and ideologically detached. My interest isn’t so much about Christianity itself and more about the entire era, what helped create the Axial Age and what resulted from it.

          As I see it, the Axial Age set the stage for the Enlightenment Age. And we are still seeing the consequences play out to this very day. The ultimate origins of Christianity, even if it could ever be proven beyond all doubt, wouldn’t be of central relevance to my own concerns. It’s just mildly intriguing.

          How you could capture my interest more fully is if you connected it to a larger historical and societal context. What might the Pesher Technique be able to tell us about the world at that time? What influences does it indicate? What can that clarify about Christianity along with other early forms of Mediterranean religion? And does it help us to understand the Axial Age?

          Those are the kinds of directions in which my mind is led. What does it mean? Why does it matter? How would it change what we think we know?

        • This relates to my interest in other similar issues. I study early Christianity for the same basic reason I study the syncretism of early civilizations, Karl Jasper’s Axial Age religions, Julian Jayne’s bicameral societies, Daniel Everett’s observations about the Piraha, and Lynne Kelly’s menmonics interpretation of the Australian Aborigines.

          What draws me in are questions about what all of this can help us understand about human nature and human society, human development and human potential. These other societies matter because they speak to our own humanity in the present. They tell us how we got here and where we might be going.

          That is the curiosity that drives me.

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